7 New Approaches To Clean Drinking Water Technology

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Image: Andrew Mason

Water is the defining element on our planet, and access to clean water pretty much determines where and how life can exist on Earth.

For those who live near dependable freshwater sources, with adequate infrastructure and enough of a supply to meet all local water needs, access to potable water isn’t a concern, but because of the wide variety in the geographical locations of population centers around the world, there are plenty of people who either go without or have to radically conserve water for just the essentials

Even in times when there aren’t drought conditions, supplying clean potable drinking water can pose serious challenges, but in these increasingly dry periods, it’s not just access to drinking water that is threatened, but also access to fresh water for other uses, such as agriculture and industry.

In some areas, drilling a well can provide more water locally, assuming that there is enough groundwater to supply a new well, but in other locations, that simply isn’t an option, and to ensure a steady supply of clean water, a variety of tactics may be called for, including some off-the-wall thinking and innovation, such as these clean water solutions demonstrate.

MIT Turns Solar Steam Into Cheaper Energy, Clean Water: A new solar steam generator uses a graphite-based system to continuously absorb and evaporate liquid. Along with its potential power uses, the solar steam system will be able to desalinate and/or decontaminate impure and waste water.

New System Turns Cow Manure into Clean Water:
By combining an anaerobic digester with a filtration and reverse osmosis system, an idea that began to be developed at Michigan State University (MSU) matured into a system that can turn cow manure into clean water, while also capturing essential nutrients that can be reused as fertilizer.

Can Cloud Power Supply Both Clean Water and Clean Energy?: A “cloud power” device is part airship, part fog/cloud collector, and part hydroelectric plant. The system is dubbed an Air HES (air hydroelectric station), and the inventor claims that it could essentially harvest water from clouds, and send it down to a hydro power plant on the ground, yielding both clean water (for drinking, irrigation, etc.) and clean electricity.

Towing Icebergs For Clean Water: Towing icebergs to supply fresh water isn’t a new idea, but it is one that could show some merit, assuming the approach to finding, transporting, and processing the icebergs doesn’t require more money and resources than other clean water technologies.

Toilet to Tap: Orange County Turning Sewage Water into Drinking Water:
The thought of drinking water that originally came from sewage isn’t exactly appealing, but reusing wastewater after it’s been through a microfiltration, reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light, and hydrogen peroxide disinfection process might not be any different than other municipal water.

Researchers Propose Using Gas Hydrates Produced By Fracking To Desalinate Wastewater Produced By Fracking: Fracking is a very controversial practice among environmentalists and groundwater advocates, because of the potential for the contamination of water supplies, but some researchers believe that a byproduct of fracking could be used to clean up water that was contaminated by the fracking process.

Cleaning Water With Music CDs: Researchers have successfully grown tiny, upright zinc oxide nano-rods on CDs, which then work to break apart organic pollutants like those in sewage when illuminated with UV light.

[This post has been generously supported by Air HES.]

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